Volunteer Voices: Rachel, CASA Volunteer
Have you heard the acronym CASA? It stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates and these volunteers commit to serving as a CASA for one court case at a time, to be a voice for the children involved.
CASA for Douglas County is a nonprofit organization that trains, inspires, and empowers volunteer advocates to improve the lives of children that have been abused and neglected. CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to be a voice for those children. The desired result is that children can be placed in safe, loving homes and thus increase their potential to thrive.
Volunteers visit with the child monthly, attend a monthly meeting with case professionals, attend periodic court hearings, and advocate for services that help the child grow and thrive.
- There are up to 1,600 children in the child welfare system in Douglas County.
- Over 100 children are currently waiting for a CASA Volunteer
- Children of color are disproportionately represented in the foster care system
CASA advocacy works. Children assigned a CASA Volunteer spend approximately 8 months less time in foster care and have better educational and behavioral outcomes. On average, 82% of CASA Volunteers' recommendations are accepted by the court.
I wanted to hear firsthand what it is like to be a CASA volunteer and was lucky to have some time to chat with Rachel, a CASA volunteer.
What is your favorite thing about being a CASA?
“I like to spend a lot of time with my CASA kid. I typically see my CASA kid about once a week, which isn’t typical, but I feel it is really important to get to know the child and who they are so you can better help guide them as their CASA.“
How long have you been a CASA?
“This is my first CASA case. I started training in April 2022 and was appointed in June. It was really nice to be able to get to know her over the summer. There are lots of stories that I could tell but this is the most impactful. About a month ago she had a really traumatic situation happen to her. Me being there for her to have someone to talk to was therapeutic. I was there the next day. She has a big support system but to have an extra person for her was beneficial.”
What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a CASA?
“It is a lot of work and I’m still learning. I’ll never stop learning. It is a very rewarding position to be in. It’s not super time consuming but in order to be a good volunteer, putting in the extra time with your kids is really helpful. You connect more with the children you are helping. My CASA child is about to get her guardianship, it’s really exciting for her, something she has wanted for a long time. It is a rewarding experience for everyone involved.
Are there special skills volunteers need to be a CASA?
“I feel like I’m good with children. I don’t have children of my own but I’ve been an aunt since I was 10 years old. My CASA youth is 17 years old and I like to think that I’m a hip 32 year old so that I can understand her slang, Tik Tok… I know that kind of stuff. You have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations sometimes reaching out to people involved in the case.
I think that the judges really consider the CASA report when going into a hearing so it is very important to get all of the information about the child’s needs and wants. Me having a voice in court has helped to push the process to get to where she wants to be.”
Submit your interest and learn more about becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate volunteer